According to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), recently Nepal has imported rice worth Rs.24.75 billion (around $231 million) in the fiscal year 2014-15 (August – July), which is about 43% more from around Rs.17.26 billion (around $161 million) during FY 2013-14. This increase in imports is attributed to poor summer harvests. In addition, the country’s paddy output has also declined by about 258,435 tons or about 5.1% to around 4.78 million tons in this fiscal year due to a late monsoon and untimely rainfall as reported by the Agriculture Ministry. The Ministry also informed that most of these imports are from India.
Further, the agriculture experts told that the Agriculture Ministry has planned to reduce rice import bill by about two-thirds to about Rs.6 billion (around $56 million) in FY 2014-15 has miserably failed. It was informed that a drop in paddy production has put pressure on imports which is likely to continue in FY 2015-16 as well. The report indicates that as there was a droughts in most of the Tarai districts, the country’s food basket have also affected the paddy transplantation according to an agro expert and scientist . Based on the current paddy transplantation estimates, it has been noted that that rice import value could cross Rs.40 billion (around $373 million) in the next fiscal year.
In this context, it has been estimated that the country would lose paddy worth Rs.25 billion (around $233 million) this year and the government should give more importance to paddy production as it contributes to about Rs.100 billion (around $932 million) to the country’s GDP. It has been suggested that the government should come forward with a long-term plan to avoid any impact of perennial droughts or floods on the country’s paddy production.
However, as per USDA estimates, Nepal is to import around 400,000 tons of rice in 2015. Further, it estimates that Nepal’s MY 2014-15 (October 2014 – September 2015) paddy rice production may decline to about 4.655 million tons (around 3.1 million tons, basis milled) from an estimated 5 million tons (around 3.36 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2013-14.